Most of us hate the word wait. It’s a four-letter word that stirs up all sorts of negative emotions. No kid likes to hear, “Wait your turn.” No adult likes to wait in long lines at the DMV. No husband enjoys waiting for his wife to do “just one more thing before we go”. No wife loves waiting for her husband to fix the kitchen faucet he promised to repair a month ago. And I’ve never met anyone who appreciates it when they feel God is saying, “Not yet. Wait.”
In our minds, waiting ranks right up there with a root canal. Necessary perhaps, but not at all fun.
The most difficult challenge for me, and maybe for you too, is waiting for God. We pray. We fast. We search the Scriptures for a promise. We vow to God to be better and to do better, believing somehow that we can twist His arm into action. We desperately look for something, anything to hang our hopes on. We cry out to Papa God for answers, and we curse the heavens when He seems silent.
A dear friend of mine has suffered with infertility for years. She’s tried everything, read every book she could get her hands on, talked to multiple doctors and attempted several expensive medical procedures. She and her husband have the medical bills to prove it. And yet nothing has changed. No pregnancy. No baby. No answers. And hope is waning.
A thirty-something woman I know is single and frustrated. She’s intelligent and gifted; she’s attractive and full of life. She’s tried online dating sites and a few blind dates that were set up by friends. She’s even met a couple of guys who her mom thought were perfect for her, yet they weren’t. (Seriously, Mom?) At this point, all she wants is to be a wife and a mom, but both of those dreams seem elusive. She sometimes cries herself to sleep at night wondering what’s wrong with her and why she can’t find the man of her dreams.
Waiting is hard. It hurts. We want to believe God has a plan. We pray for patience and perspective. But the passing of time is painful.
At the heart of this issue is more than just a struggle with patience. We find it hard to wait because sometimes we find it difficult to trust God.
We lie awake in the darkness wondering . . .
Has God forgotten me?
Have I brought this pain upon myself because I’m a failure?
Do I not deserve what I’m longing for, or am I being punished?
Does God have my best interest in mind?
Can He be counted on to make good on His promises?
Does God have any idea what I’m going through?
Is God even listening to me?
Regardless of the circumstances, we all face the same question: Will I trust God to create His masterpiece in and through me, or will I demand to be the master of my fate? In other words, will we trust Him or take matters into our own hands?
WHAT IT TAKES TO WAIT
Here are some extremely practical things I’ve learned along the way about waiting. Are these things easy? No. Are they worth it? Absolutely.
First, you have to determine now what you will do during a delay. By that I mean, if you wait until you’ve waited to the point of frustration to decide how you will handle the delay, you’re going to be in trouble. It’s best to understand early in the process that God’s sense of timing is radically different from ours. Unlike us, God sees the end from the beginning. Unlike us, God is just as concerned about what happens along the way as He is the end result. In fact, sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. Why? Because during the delay our faith and character are forged.
Second, to wait for Him means to actively engage in your present circumstances with joy. Rather than miss what’s happening right now because you’re so preoccupied with your future, God wants you to be fully present in the moment. Sadly, while waiting for God to do the one thing or the big thing I desperately desired, too often I missed a thousand “little” things that mattered to Him. Instead of resisting and resenting the process of waiting, choose to look for God every day and to find His purpose in the present.
And finally, for you to wait with patience and faith, it’s always best to have someone in your corner encouraging you to hold on. My wife, Laura, consistently inspires me to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. By her example and her words, she frequently reminds me that God is good, He is faithful, and He always has a plan. She challenges me not to let the known and the seen world discount what God is doing in the unseen realm. Frankly, you will wait more successfully when you find a partner who will stand with you in the darkness and confusion and whisper into your soul, “It’s okay; we’re not alone . . . He is here.”
It seems that victory and failure often go together in our spiritual journey. Sometimes we wait for God and we grow. Sometimes we act impulsively and rashly and we still grow, but it just takes longer. And sometimes, we fail miserably, but even then God is patient and good and able to redeem any situation and any broken life that is surrendered to Him.
There’s that word again, surrender. For a Christ-follower, surrender and trust are interwoven. You can’t succeed at one without the other, especially when it comes to waiting.
“They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.”
Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)
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